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Start Your Own Blogging Business, 3rd Edition

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					                      Contents

   Acknowledgments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi

   Preface . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii

Chapter 1
   Planning and Creating Your Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
        What Is a Blog? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
        It All Starts with a Great Idea . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
        Choosing a Profitable Topic . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
            Blog Topic Idea List . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
            Industry-Oriented Topics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
            Blogs Focusing on an Organization . . . . . . . . . . . 14
            Personal Blogs Can Generate Huge Followings . . 15
            Blog about a Publicity Stunt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
            Political Blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
            Blogs Based on Hobbies or Special Interests . . . . . 17
            A Company Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
            General Interest Blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
            Continuous Stream of Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
            Your Credibility as a Blogger . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
            Existing Competition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
                                              Your Interest and Passion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              21
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                              Choose the Best Way to Present Your Content. . . . . . . . . . . .                               21
                                              Create a Posting Schedule and Stick to It . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        22
                                          Selecting a Blog Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            22
                                          Domain Name Concerns . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                 23
                                          Choosing a Pseudonym . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             24
                                              Write Like a Blogger. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            24
                                              Strategies for Producing Quality Videos (Vlogs) . . . . . . . . . . .                            26
                                          Choosing a Platform for Growth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                   29
                                              Hosted Blogging Services vs. Installed
                                              Server Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          30
                                              Hosted Blogging Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               31
                                              Installed Server Applications. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               34
                                          Suitability for Your Content . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             35
                                          Advertising Capacity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         36
                                          Future Growth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      36
                                          Customization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      37
                                          Bringing On Staff or Contributors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  38
                                          Your Growth Plan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         40
                                              Business Goals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       40
                                              Your Time Frame . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            40
                                              Inviting Other People to Contribute to Your Blog . . . . . . . .                                 41
                                          Don’t Forget About
                                          Building Your Audience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           43
                                          Planning Wrap-Up . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           43

                                   Chapter 2
                                      Publishing Your Blog or Vlog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 45
                                          Consider Hiring a Freelancer
                                          to Help You Get Started . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            46
                                          Community Blogging Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  47
                                          Web-Based Blogging Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                48
                                              Blogger.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      48
                                              TypePad . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    50
                                              WordPress.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          53
                                              There Are Many More Options to Choose From . . . . . . . . . .                                   54
                                          Installed Server Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            55
                                              Movable Type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         55
                                              LifeType . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   57
                                              B2evolution . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      57

         vi
         WordPress . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        58




                                                                                                                 Contents
      YouTube: The Premier Online Service for Vloggers. . . . . . . . . . .                                 60
      Twitter: The Primary Tool for Microbloggers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                           61
      A Few More Thoughts About Blog Publishing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                               62

Chapter 3
   Promoting Your Blog and Building Your Audience . . . . . . . . 65
      How to Begin the Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             67
          The First Post . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        67
          Focus On Descriptive Titles and Filenames . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             70
          The First Months of Blogging . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                    71
          Filling Your Archive . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .            71
          Consistency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       72
      Testing Your Platform . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .           73
      Attracting Traffic to Your Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               74
      Search Engines. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       75
          Submission Pages for Top Search Engines . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                             78
      Keyword Optimization . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              78
          Keyword Popularity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              78
          Keyword Profitability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .             79
      Search Engine Advertising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               80
      Blog Aggregators . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        83
          Technorati . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      84
      Get Your Blog Listed within Blog Directories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          84
      Link Exchanges . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        85
          Blogrolls . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   85
      Word-of-Mouth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         86
      Become a Guest Blogger on Other Blogs. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                          86
      Post Reviews on Bookselling Sites . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                   87
      Don’t Forget to Use Public Relations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                      87
      Don’t Forget About Real-World Promotional Opportunities . . . .                                       88
      Get Started Now, But Keep It Going . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                      89

Chapter 4
   Generating Revenue Directly from Your Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . 91
      Donations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   93
          PayPal . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .    94
          Click & Pledge . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          95
          Other Easy-to-Set-Up Merchant Account Options . . . . . . . .                                     96
      Affiliate Programs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        96

                                                                                                                 vii
                                           Merchandising . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 98
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                           Memberships or Subscriptions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
                                               Partial Access . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 100
                                               Early Edition . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
                                               Ad-Free Version . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 101
                                           Selling Display Ad Space . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
                                               Ad Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
                                               CPC vs. CPM . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102
                                               Optimizing Layout . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 104
                                           Profiles of Ad Networks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
                                               Google AdSense . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
                                               CrispAds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 107
                                               Pheedo . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108
                                               Wait, You Still Have More Choices . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
                                           Private Sponsors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109
                                           The Media Kit . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
                                               Describe Your Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
                                               Audience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 110
                                               Traffic Level and Analysis Services . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 112
                                               The Offer. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 114
                                           Running Multiple Blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 115

                                   Chapter 5
                                      Transitioning from a Hobbyist into a
                                        Professional Business . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .117
                                           Business Classifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        118
                                              Sole Proprietorship . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .          118
                                              Partnership . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      119
                                              Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .      119
                                              S Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        120
                                              Limited Liability Corporation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  120
                                           Registering Your Business Name . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  120
                                           Hiring Help . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   121
                                           More Protection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .       123
                                               Play by the Rules . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .         123

                                   Chapter 6
                                      Meet Established Bloggers and Learn from
                                       Their Success . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
                                           Liz Corry, Blogger, MySubscriptionAddiction.com. . . . . . . . . . . 126

         viii
        Micah Warren, Blogger, OffTheRecordSports.com . . . . . . . . . . 133




                                                                                                                 Contents
        Janet Barclay, Blogger and Blogging Consultant,
          www.OrganizedAssistant.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138
        Christina Zila, Blogger and Executive with Textbroker
          International, www.textbroker.com . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

Chapter 7
   Final Thoughts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145
        Six Strategies for Improving Your Blog . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                  146
            1. Define the Target Audience for Your Blog and
                Cater to That Audience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              146
            2. Put a Unique Twist on Your Blog’s Topic and Content . .                                  147
            3. Add New Content on a Regular Basis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                       148
            4. Focus on Engagement: Transform Your Blog
                into an Interactive Online Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        148
            5. Adopt a Multifaceted Approach to
                Promoting Your Blog Continuously . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .                        149
            6. Keep the Blog’s Look, Overall Design,
                and Content Professional . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .              149
        Additional Things to Consider . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .               150
        Take Advantage of Technology to Help You Blog . . . . . . . . . . . .                           150
        One Last Thought . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .        151

   Glossary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153

   About the Author . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157
              Additional Books Written by Jason R. Rich and
               Published by Entrepreneur Press . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 158
              Entrepreneur Magazine’s Personal Finance
               Pocket Guides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 159
              Entrepreneur Magazine’s Business Traveler Series . . . . . . . . . 159

   Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 161




                                                                                                                  ix
                               1


  Planning and
Creating Your Blog



            F   irst, think carefully about what you want to say

and what information you want to communicate via your blog.

Make sure you have enough content to share over the long term,

and will be able to regularly update your blog with fresh, engaging,

and relevant content.
                                      Next, consider who your target audience will be. Then, figure out the best way to
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   convey your information to your audience, and determine if you’ll primarily use text,
                                   photos, video, audio, computer graphics, and/or other multimedia content.
                                       Think about how much technological knowledge you have, and how much time
                                   and money you want to invest in developing and producing your content. Once you’ve
                                   considered all of these important elements, you’ll be in a much better position to begin
                                   planning and creating what will hopefully become a successful blog. Plus, you’ll be
                                   able to determine which service you’ll use to host your blog, and be able to discover
                                   effective ways to promote it.
                                       With thousands of new blogs being published each and every day, plus many
                                   being taken offline or simply abandoned in cyberspace, it’s impossible to calculate an
                                   accurate figure as to the number of blogs that actually exist in the blogosphere at any
                                   given moment. That being said, let’s take a quick look at how many blogs are hosted by
                                   some of the internet’s most prominent blog-hosting services as of April 2013:

                                      •	   umblr         . 	million
                                      •	 Wordpress.com             	million
                                      •	   iveJournal         . 	million
                                      •	 Weebly         	million
                                      •	   logster        ,
                                      •	   logger.com         . 	billion

                                       There are also many more mainstream blogging and online social networking
                                   services that host blogs, vlogs, and podcasts, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube,
                                   Vimeo, Vine, Pinterest, and Instagram, so the actual number of blogs available right
                                   now on the internet is well into the multi-billions.
                                       One of the reasons why blogging has become so incredibly popular as a
                                                                        communications medium is because anyone
                                                                        can do it, and the startup costs are minimal.
                                                     Stat Fact          Using a blog, creative and charismatic
                                                     According to       people are able to bypass the usual corporate
                                                WordPress.com, it hosts content	 publishers such	 as	 maga ines,	
                                     more than 65 million blogs. More   newspapers, music record labels, TV
                                     than 500,000 new posts are         networ s,	 and	 radio	 stations and	 deliver	
                                     added to these blogs daily, and    content directly to their audiences via the
                                     they’re read by more than 329      web.
                                     million people per month. These
                                     people generate in excess of 25        If you haven’t allowed yourself to
                                     billion page views per month.      wander beyond your usual favorite websites,
                                                                        you’ll be surprised to find that the number

         2
of online journals, photo albums, music galleries, artist portfolios, and other personal




                                                                                           1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
sites have exploded in number. Plus, you can find blogs, vlogs, and podcasts that cover
every topic imaginable. As a result, new and original content is flooding the web,
which has resulted in a true online renaissance.
    This book will help you understand the significance of the blogging phenomenon,
and more importantly, show you how people from around the world are using
blogging to circumvent commonly accepted publishing procedures, and keep the
profits generated from their own work, while also maintaining 100 percent creative
control over their content.
   The material presented within this book is designed around a five-step process.
These steps include:

   Step 1: Planning your blog
   Step 2: Publishing your blog
   Step 3: Managing your blog
   Step 4: Promoting your blog
   Step 5: Profiting or otherwise benefitting from your blog

    Several chapters of this book detail what’s involved in each step of the overall
blogging process. Keep in mind, these steps are equally important and must be given
proper time and consideration. Also, some of the steps required will vary based on




  “Engagement” Is All About Getting People
  Involved with Your Blog

               O      ne buzzword that’s used often these days is engagement. It
  refers not just to the quality of content that’s published online, but also to the
  level of interaction that the content generates from its audience. For example, a
  blog would be considered to have a high level of engagement if those who read
  it also post their own comments and/or share blog posts with their other online
  friends via Facebook or Twitter.
     So, as you’re developing your blog and creating content, think in terms of how
  to make it highly engaging so that you can develop an interactive online com-
  munity around your content. This will help you retain your existing audience and
  continuously expand the number of people who read your blog.


                                                                                                         3
                                   the type of blog you plan to create. For example, the steps involved in creating and
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   publishing a text-based blog are different from what’s involved in producing a vlog or
                                   podcast.
                                       The urge to publish your work can be hard to resist, and once you get started as a
                                   blogger, you’ll discover the process is fun, rewarding, and also addicting. However, you
                                   don’t want to rush the process, especially the early planning stages. Once you decide to
                                   create	a	blog,	the	next	step	is	to	come	up	with	an	ama ing	topic	to	write	about one	
                                   that will allow you to keep creating new, interesting, engaging, and innovative content
                                   (blog entries) on an ongoing basis.
                                       Once you’ve chosen your topic, it’s important to develop an overall goal for your
                                   blog. You must truly understand the blog’s purpose and what you want to get out of it.
                                   At the same time, you need to clearly define your blog’s target audience, then develop
                                   content that caters specifically to that audience. All this needs to be part of your blog
                                   planning process, but more on that later.
                                       As with any business, success is impossible without a solid foundation. Take your
                                   time with each and every step. Do your research, and think about the long-term
                                   ramifications of everything you do. At the same time, keep considering your overall
                                   blogging objectives, and make sure your actions will help you achieve them.
                                       While there’s no limit to how much money you can earn running a successful
                                   and popular blog, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Chances are, you won’t
                                   become a millionaire, and blogging isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme. Truly successful
                                   bloggers often use their blog as a way to better communicate with customers and
                                   clients, or as a sales and marketing tool for their businesses. It’s not created to generate
                                   revenue on its own.
                                        If you’re creating a blog as a business venture with hopes it will generate profits,
                                   this requires a lot of planning and promotion, because you’ll need to build and maintain
                                   an extremely large and dedicated following for the blog before it will generate any
                                   serious revenue.
                                                        In fact, self-publishing and self-promoting any type of work
                                                                              can be a bit of a challenge. While it won’t
                                                                              cost you a fortune to create and publish a
                                                    Stat Fact                 successful blog that generates revenue, it
                                                     As of early 2013,
                                                                              will	re uire	that	you	put	in	serious	wor
                                                more than 60 percent
                                     of all businesses maintain some          not just creating, publishing, managing, and
                                     type of blog.                            promoting the blog, but also overseeing the
                                                                              business side of the online venture as well.

         4
                                                 Once your blog begins generating




                                                                                                 1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
  Smart Tip                                  revenue, either from your audience or
  If you’re launching a blog                 advertisers, you’ll need to handle the same
  as a standalone business,                  business-related tasks as you would for any
  you’ll need to establish your busi-        type of business, such as bookkeeping and
  ness entity properly from the
                                             paying taxes. In later chapters, we’ll focus
  start. File the appropriate paper-
  work, set up bank accounts, and            on specific ways to generate revenue with
  lay the foundation for the busi-           your blog and how to transform it into a
  ness’s infrastructure accordingly.         profit-generating venue (as opposed to a
                                             nonpaying hobby).
       efore	you	start	calculating	all	the	riches	you’ll	be	earning	as	a	blogger,	let’s	spend	
a few minutes exploring what a blog, vlog, podcast, and microblog actually are. After
all, you need to determine if this is what you want to do, what approach you want to
take, and whether you have the wherewithal to do it right.



                             What Is a Blog?
    The term “blog” comes from combining the words “web” and “log,” which
was used for a short time to describe websites that published a running archive of
dated entries, sort of like a digital diary that was displayed in chronological order.
The techno-geeks that created the first “web logs” coined the term “weblog,” which
ultimately evolved into the term “blog.”
    The word “blog,” as a noun, can describe a regularly updated, primarily text-
based website with individual, dated posts that are displayed chronologically. This is
a traditional blog. Of course, today’s traditional blogs can also incorporate photos,
videos, audio, and graphics, but they’re primarily text-based, and use a standard format
for each entry.
     The word can also be used as a verb,
as in “to blog,” meaning to actively submit
posts to a website, which is also referred to                        Stat Fact
as “blogging.” The people who run blogs                             According to
are known as “bloggers,” and the whole                         Worldmeters (www.
collection of all the internet’s blogs is known      worldometers.info/blogs), the
                                                     total number of individual blog
as the “blogosphere.”
                                                     posts created and published per
    The anatomy of a traditional, text-              day is more than 1.8 million.
based blog is nothing more than a basic

                                                                                                               5
                                   website with a bunch of dated entries. All of the blogging services that host blogs
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   allow	bloggers	to	customi e	the	loo 	of	their	blog,	by	choosing	text	colors,	fonts,	and	
                                   an overall layout or design. Many use professionally created templates that can be fully
                                   customi ed	but	that	re uire	no	programming	to	use.
                                         eyond	traditional	blogs,	there	are	also	vlogs,	podcasts,	and	microblogs.	A	vlog	is	
                                   a collection of videos, recorded and edited by the vlogger. Instead of using text, the
                                   vlogger stars in their own videos, and often simply looks into the camera and talks to
                                   their audience. You’ll find many popular vloggers on YouTube. Some have become
                                   popular internet personalities with huge followings.
                                       Thanks to Twitter, and services like Facebook and Google+, millions of people have
                                   gotten hooked on microblogging. Instead of writing lots of text for a traditional blog,
                                   or recording videos for a vlog, they simply update their microblog feed with ongoing
                                   entries which are no longer than 140 characters in length (about one sentence long).
                                        Meanwhile, for people who don’t like to write, services like Instagram allow people
                                   to upload images and include an optional text-based caption, keywords, and location
                                   to a photo.
                                       For obvious reasons, microblogging is the easiest to do and requires the least
                                   amount of time and effort. Yet there are microbloggers with millions of followers who
                                   use their Twitter feed, for example, to promote their company, products, services, or
                                   themselves very successfully.
                                       Many individuals as well as companies often use a combination of online activities
                                   to achieve their goals. For example, they’d use a blog to promote a company, product,
                                   or service’s website, and then use a Twitter feed and/or a Facebook page to promote
                                   the blog and/or the website. YouTube videos can also be used to cross-promote a
                                   website, blog, Facebook page, and/or Twitter feed. Thus, the same core content and
                                   message is repackaged in several ways, across multiple platforms, to reach a broader
                                   audience using different forms of media.
                                       For the remainder of this book, blogging will be a catch-all phrase that could
                                   include traditional blogging, vlogging, podcasting, and/or microblogging. As you’ll
                                   discover, the most successful blogs focus on a single topic or have a specific purpose,
                                   and their content caters to a specific and well-defined audience. You’ll also find as you
                                   explore the blogosphere that people from all walks of life start blogs for vastly different
                                   reasons and with many different goals in mind.
                                       There are no limits as to what topic can be covered within a blog. You can convey
                                   thoughts, ideas, facts, or opinions. You can also offer how-to information, share your
                                   expertise, spread gossip, or promote a person, company, product, or service. Some
                                   blogs	 are	 created	 ust	 for	 fun to	 ma e	 people	 laugh	 or	 to	 share	 information	 with	
                                   friends and immediate family.


         6
    There are also a lot of blogs on the internet that are about the internet. These




                                                                                            1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
blogs cover topics such as how to build websites, what technologies to try, and what
up-and-coming trends to watch. These bloggers alert their audience to exciting
news by keeping a constant finger on the pulse of a particular industry, and provide a
valuable service.
   Companies from virtually every industry regularly use blogs for a wide range of
purposes, including:

   •	    o	build	brand	awareness	for	a	person,	product,	service,	or	company
   •	    o	distribute	company,	industry,	or	product oriented	news	and	information
   •	    o	enhance	a	company’s	overall	customer	service	and	interaction	with	clients	
        and customers (as well as prospective ones)
   •	    o	offer	a	forum	for	providing	technical	support
   •	    o	educate	customers	 or	potential	customers 	about	the	company,	its	products,	
        and/or its services
   •	    o	entertain	customers	or	build	a	community	around	a	brand
   •	 As	a	powerful	mar eting,	promotional,	or	public	relations	tool
   •	    o	 encourage	 customers	 to	 communicate	 among	 themselves	 about	 a	 specific	
        topic (such as a company’s product)
   •	    o	showcase	and	compare	a	specific	product	with	competing	products
   •	    o	teach	people	about	how	to	use	a	product	or	service,	or	instruct	them	on	how	
        to acquire a new skill

    The possibilities are truly limitless, whether you’re blogging, vlogging, podcasting,
or microblogging.
     Not all blogs provide a valuable service.              Beware!
There are plenty of blogs out there that                       A blog can be about
feature content that’s totally incoherent,                      anything, but to be
                                                             successful, a blog must
rambles, and features un-entertaining rants
                                                   provide a valuable and tangible
about whatever is on the blogger’s mind. In        service or benefit to its readers.
fact, as you start reading blogs, you’ll find      The content you create needs
many where the blogger actually blogs about        to be informative, entertaining,
not having anything to blog about.                 unique, creative, and/or engag-
    This meaningless type of blog has no           ing—something people want to
audience beyond the blogger’s immediate            read or watch. It also needs to be
                                                   consistent. Blogs that aren’t well
friends, co-workers, and relatives (if even
                                                   focused find it very difficult to
those people are interested). You should           find and then retain an audience.
be certain that your blog, and your chosen


                                                                                                          7
                                   topic, provide valuable and informative content. After all, if you’re able to provide
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   valuable and reliable content of any kind, you’ll develop an audience, and that audience
                                   can keep growing.
                                         logging	 is	 a	 fast growing	 phenomenon.	 As	 blogging	 becomes	 even	 more	
                                   mainstream	and	widespread,	so	does	your	potential	audience.	 logs	can	be	accessed	
                                   from a desktop or notebook computer, any wireless internet device, an interactive
                                   TV set, a tablet (such as the iPad), or even a smartphone. So as more individuals,
                                   companies,	and	organi ations	use	blogs	to	communicate,	more	people	will	devote	their	
                                   time to reading blogs, listening to podcasts, and watching vlogs that interest them.
                                       Without a doubt, blogging will continue to become more popular and evolve in
                                   the next few years. It’s not too late to jump on the bandwagon and become a successful
                                   blogger, podcaster, or vlogger. Even if you can’t come up with something truly unique
                                   to blog about, you can still develop a new twist to present your content and take a new
                                   approach when it comes to presenting it to your targeted audience.
                                       With your enthusiasm to explore the world of professional blogging, and the tools
                                   and information provided in the following chapters, you’ll potentially be able to earn
                                   money running a blog. The amount of money you earn will be up to you.
                                       Keep in mind, many companies currently use a blog as a sales, marketing,
                                   promotional, or advertising tool, and/or to enhance their customer service or technical
                                   support. The blog is not designed to directly generate revenue, but it is designed
                                   to help a company grow, cut costs, and assist in building lasting relationships with
                                   potential and existing customers or clients, for example.



                                                 It All Starts with a Great Idea
                                       As you already know, one of the first steps for launching a successful blog is the
                                   planning	 phase.	 Just	 as	 you	 wouldn’t	 launch	 a	 company	 without	 a	 detailed	 business	
                                   plan, you don’t want to simply create a blog without a plan, especially if you’re hoping
                                   to generate revenue from it or use the blog in conjunction with your existing business.
                                      This section covers the things you’ll need to anticipate and the preparations you’ll
                                   want to make before ever touching your keyboard to create your first blog entry.
                                       A successful blog must have four main features:

                                      1. A steady stream of original, interesting, informative, engaging, and/or enter-
                                         taining content. The content should be targeted to its audience and displayed
                                         or presented in a way that’s easy to read and visually appealing.
                                      2. A large and ever-growing audience


         8
   3. One or more reliable revenue sources (if the goal of the blog is, in fact, to gen-




                                                                                                1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
      erate revenue)
   4. It should be synergistic with all of your other online activities, including what you
       do via your website, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and/or YouTube channel, etc.



                Choosing a Profitable Topic
     There are many factors to consider when selecting a topic that will produce desirable
profits or allow you to build a large and dedicated audience. You must consider public
interest, your knowledge of the topic, its longevity, and the audience’s interest in it. It’s
also important to look at your competition and develop a way to deliver content that’s
different, better, and more engaging than your competition. Start off by brainstorming
several possible topics you might like to use, then consider the following:

   •	 Who’s	the	audience	for	the	topic 	As	the	blogger,	will	you	be	able	to	cater	to	
      that	audience	and	write	or	produce	content	in	a	way	the	audience	will	relate	to




  A Podcast Allows You to Be Heard

                A       “podcast” is an audio-based blog. It allows the blogger to
  record their voice, as well as audio content, and provide it in a blog-like format
  that people download or stream from the internet and then listen to on demand,
  as opposed to reading or watching it. Before vlogging became so popular and
  readily available, thanks to low-cost webcams, YouTube, and high-speed internet
  connections, podcasting was popular. These days, podcasting is less popular but
  still a viable way to communicate using audio with an audience.
     Think of a podcast as an on-demand radio show that you produce and distrib-
  ute to your audience. Someone can then listen to a podcast on their computer,
  tablet, or smartphone, or download the audio file and listen to it at their conve-
  nience using a digital music player (such as an iPod).
     A podcaster can create new podcasts (audio programs) on a daily, weekly,
  biweekly, or monthly basis, to which a listener can subscribe for free and then
  enjoy at their leisure.



                                                                                                           9
                                      •	     oes	the	topic	have	long term	appeal 	Will	it	be	relevant	in	six	months,	a	year,	
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                           two	years,	or	five	years	from	now
                                      •	 How	large	is	the	target	audience	for	the	topic 	How	will	you	reach	the	intended	
                                         audience	to	inform	them	about	your	blog
                                      •	 Will	there	be	enough	to	write	about	the	topic	in	the	future 	Off	the	top	of	your	
                                         head,	can	you	write	down	at	least	 	things	you’d	blog	about	in	future	entries 	
                                         Will you be able to come up with new things to blog about and keep your con-
                                         tent	fresh	over	the	long	term
                                      •	 How	 much	 competition	 is	 there	 based	 on	 your	 topic 	 Consider	 other	 blogs,	
                                         websites,	 maga ines,	 newspapers,	 newsletters,	 vlogs,	    	 shows,	 radio	 shows,	
                                         podcasts, YouTube channels, Facebook pages, and other content that’s out there
                                         and already targeting your audience.
                                      •	 What	will	you	do	differently	to	ma e	your	content	more	appealing,	engaging,	
                                         entertaining,	or	interactive

                                       If your goal is to attract millions of visitors every month to a blog, the topic
                                   you select should have mass appeal or be somewhat mainstream, yet have a unique
                                   twist	to	it.	As	you	try	to	determine	the	si e	of	your	audience,	be	realistic	and	develop	
                                   appropriate expectations. For example, a blog that addresses the political happenings
                                   in your town of 30,000 people may very well become the hottest thing in that town,
                                   but the audience growth potential has a ceiling. People in other towns, much less in
                                   other states or countries, will have little or no interest in your blog.
                                        Even if you create the most incredible blog and the potential audience is the people
                                   in your town, realistically, it’s likely that only one out of every 10 people in your town
                                   will have the time or interest to read blogs in the course of their day, and of those few
                                   people, even fewer are most likely interested in local politics. So while the topic of
                                   local politics may excite you personally, the reality is that this topic is very limited in
                                   terms of its potential audience and ability to grow.
                                         loggers	 ust	li e	you	have	achieved	success	blogging	about	a	wide	range	of	topics.	
                                   The following are just a few general areas that you might consider as you choose what
                                   you’ll blog about.


                                                                Blog Topic Idea List
                                       The following list, presented in alphabetical order, is comprised of 101 proven
                                   topics you could blog about. However, this list only scratches the surface when it
                                   comes to possible topics, themes, issues, or subject matters to blog about.
                                      For every potential blogging topic, you can offer your opinions, experiences,
                                   commentary, news, how-to information, or take a variety of different approaches, plus

         10
delve into subtopics or related themes. You can also focus on the controversy that




                                                                                     1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
surrounds a topic as a way to engage your audience.

    1. Abortion (your opinion/com-             .	 Economic	trends
       mentary)                                .	 Embarrassing	moments
    2. Abuse (drugs, alcohol, mental,          .	 amily	vacations	 best	or	worst
       physical, etc.)                         .	 ashion
    3. Airline security                      30. Fitness
    4. Art (favorite/least favorite/your     31. Food/nutrition
       review)
                                             32. Friends
     .	 oo s	 favorite least	favorite
                                             33. Gambling
       your review)
                                             34. Gas prices
     .	 oss related	topics
                                               .	 Gay	rights	or	gay	marriage
     .	 rothers sisters
                                               .	 Global	warming
     .	 usiness	and	financial	news
                                               .	 Government government	poli-
     .	 Cars
                                                  cies (local, state, or federal)
   10. Cell phones
                                               .	 Hairstyling
   11. Challenge your audience to do
                                               .	 Health	insurance	 and	other	
       something specific
                                                  types of insurance)
   12. Charity
                                             40. Hobbies (golf, fishing, hiking,
   13. Collectibles
                                                 camping, crafts, knitting, paint-
   14. Commentary on someone else’s              ing, etc.)
       blog
                                             41. Hollywood or show-business
     .	 Company related	sales	and	pro-           gossip
        motions
                                             42. Home decorating
     .	 Computers
                                             43. How-to instruction (share your
     .	 Consumer	electronics                     expertise on a topic)
     .	 Coo ing                              44. Interview people (experts, com-
     .	 Corruption                               mentators, celebrities, politi-
   20. Credit cards and loans                    cians, etc.)
   21. Crime                                   .	 Investing
   22. Currency exchange rates                 .	 Iran Ira      he	Middle	East
   23. Debate something with your              .	 Jewelry
       audience                                .	 Knitting sewing
   24. Divorce                                 .	 oss	 financial,	family	member,	
     .	   reams	or	nightmares                    friend, etc.)

                                                                                              11
                                   .	 Maga ine	articles	 your	com-             .	 Reveal	a	secret
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                      mentary)                                 .	 Reviews	of	boo s,	       	shows,	
                                   .	 Medical	issues                              movies, DVDs, etc.
                                   .	 Mortgages refinancing                    .	 School	
                                   .	 Movies	or	       s	 favorite least	      .	 Self employment
                                      favorite/your review)                    .	 Share	research	on	a	topic
                                   .	 Music	 favorite least	favorite           .	 Shopping
                                      your review)
                                                                               .	 Single	or	married	life
                                   .	   ews	events news	stories
                                                                               .	 Social	networ ing	
                                   .	 Office	politics
                                                                               .	 Something	you	hate	or	that	
                                   .	 On the ob	experiences                       makes you angry
                                   .	 Operating	a	business                     .	 Sports
                                   .	 arody	something                          .	 eacher	or	professor	 favorite
                                   .	 aying	off	debt                             least favorite)
                                   .	 ersonal	experience s                     .	 echnology	trends
                                   .	 ersonal	finances                         .	 ell	 o es present	comedy
                                   .	 ersonal	heroes	or	role	models            .	 errorism
                                   .	 ets                                      .	 he	 nited	States	 or	any	other	
                                   .	 olitical	commentary                        country)
                                   .	 olitical	election                        .	 heatre	 favorite least	favorite
                                   .	 op	culture                                 your review)
                                   .	 roblems	or	dilemmas	 personal	           .	 ravel
                                     or work related)                          .	 rials	 commentary	on	the	legal	
                                   .	 roduct service	comparisons                 system)
                                   .	 roduct service	customer	                 .	       	shows	 favorite least	favor-
                                     testimonials                                   ite/your review)
                                   .	 roduct service	review s                  .	 .S.	foreign	policy	
                                   .	 Raising	children	or	teenagers            .	 War
                                   .	 Random	rants	about	anything              .	 Websites	 favorite least	favorite
                                      or nothing                                  your review)
                                   .	 Reality	     	commentary              100. Weight loss
                                   .	 Recent	family	event                      .	 ourself      share	something	per-
                                   .	 Recycling	                                 sonal
                                   .	 Religion your	religious	views



         12
     If you’re operating a blog for a company,




                                                                                           1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
the blog itself can focus on your company,        Smart Tip
its philosophies, and/or the people who run       If you’re at a loss for words
the company, for example. The blog can            but have photos that can
                                                  tell a story, consider creating a
(and should) be targeted to your potential
                                                  photo blog or using a service like
and/or existing customers or clients.
                                                  Facebook, Google+, Instagram,
    Consider using a company blog to              or Pinterest to share your digital
explain how to best use your product or           images. Just as with traditional
service (i.e., provide step-by-step how-to        blogs, there are no rules for creat-
information), share customer testimonials,        ing photo blogs and/or online gal-
offer product comparisons, and/or interact        leries, so you can opt to include a
                                                  detailed photo caption for each
with your customers in an informal way
                                                  image, or allow each photo to
in order to share new information about
                                                  speak for itself. Photos displayed
products services	on	the	hori on.                 in a pre-determined sequence,
                                                  for example, can be used to tell a
  Industry-Oriented Topics                        powerful story. It’s also possible to
                                                  publish exactly where and when
     One way to virtually ensure you’ll have      each photo was taken, and link
plenty to blog about, now and in the future,      keywords or tags to each photo,
is to focus on a specific industry and blog       which make it easier for people
about that industry as a whole. For example,      to find.
there’s the “entertainment industry,” or
more specifically, “TV,” “music,” “movies,” or “celebrities.” There’s also the computer
industry, consumer electronics, sports, fashion, mining, transportation, and literally
thousands of other potential industries to choose from, provided you have some
knowledge about the industry and something to say in your blog.
     Within a single industry, there are probably thousands or even tens of thousands
or millions of people who work within it. These would be potential audience members
for your blog, as would be consumers who benefit from the products or services created
by your choice of industries to blog about.
    Once you have a general industry or topic, try to narrow it down a bit so the
blog will have focus and appeal to a specific group of people. For example, instead of
blogging about the entertainment industry, maybe you’ll focus on celebrity gossip, or
movie, book, or TV reviews, for example. Or you could narrow down things even more,
and focus your blog on just sci-fi TV shows, or just a single show/movie franchise, like
Star Trek, Iron Man, or X-Men.
    The sports industry, for example, would probably be too large of a topic for one
person	to	cover.	 eople	interested	in	 ASCAR	won’t	be	interested	in	your	bowling	



                                                                                                  13
                                   postings. However, say basketball is your
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   favorite sport. Consider blogging about the         Smart Tip
                                       A.	 he	       A	 has	 millions	 of	 fans,	 and	 Blogs about commodity
                                   you could produce great traffic by covering         items, such as digital cam-
                                   the	 stories	 that	 ma or	 media	 passes	 over      eras and consumer electronics, for
                                                                                       example, provide good advertis-
                                   especially if you have a true passion for
                                                                                       ing options for bloggers and can
                                   basketball and some type of expertise you
                                                                                       potentially offer a stable source of
                                   can share. You could opt to focus on college        advertising revenue.
                                   basketball or even regional high school
                                   basketball, based on your interest, knowledge, and blog goals.
                                       If you choose to cover the technology industry, you’ll quickly find you have some
                                   significant competition. Do some research before you launch your blog. Find out
                                   what’s out there, and discover a way to do it better, or focus on a different niche to
                                   cover. There are plenty of niches within the tech industry, or any industry for that
                                   matter, that you can choose from and potentially offer a blog with a unique perspective.
                                       As you consider all of the thousands of different industries out there, you’ll certainly
                                   be able to find at least one that appeals to you and that you’d have an interest in
                                   blogging about. If you choose to blog about an industry, much of your time preparing
                                   content (blog entries) will be spent searching for industry news, following industry
                                   trends, reporting about industry breakthroughs, and discussing industry gossip, for
                                   example.


                                                                                    Blogs Focusing on an
                                                                                        Organization
                                               Beware!
                                                                                   If you have a connection to, or are
                                                  If you choose a sub-
                                                   ject matter that’s          employed by, a company that holds national
                                            too narrowly focused,              interest,	such	as	e ay,	Apple,	 i e,	A       ,	
                                     you’ll have difficulty finding and        or Honda, you could do well by simply
                                     maintaining an audience, not to           blogging about the antics in your office
                                     mention coming up with things             (providing you don’t reveal any company
                                     to blog about on an ongoing               trade secrets or alienate yourself from
                                     basis. Likewise, if the blog’s topic      your superiors and wind up getting fired).
                                     is too broad, you won’t be able
                                                                               People are always interested to hear about
                                     to capture an audience, because
                                     what you’re blogging about won’t          the inner workings of the companies that
                                     appeal to a specific group of             have reached celebrity status in this country.
                                     people.                                   There are many successful blogs run by folks
                                                                               who	capitali e	on	a	company’s	popularity.



         14
                                               Aside from blogging about a company,




                                                                                                1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
            Beware!                        there	 are	 countless	 organi ations,	 charities,	
               Be careful not to           associations, and nonprofit groups that have
                reveal sensitive infor-    vast followings that you could potentially
        mation, or bad-mouth your          blog about.
  co-workers or boss within your
  blog. Remember, blogs are public.
  Anyone and everyone instantly               Personal Blogs Can
  has access to whatever you pub-
  lish. Many people have been fired        Generate Huge Followings
  as a result of posting too much
  sensitive or negative informa-                Don’t discount less specific blog topics,
  tion within a blog that pertains          such as humor. Many successful bloggers
  to their employer or superiors at         don’t cover one specific topic at all, but
  work.                                     rather they cover a variety of topics in an
  Within days, sometimes mere               entertaining manner. Think, for example, of
  hours after you publish a blog              ave	 arry’s	syndicated	column.	He	doesn’t	
  post, it often becomes search-            restrict his writing to one area of interest.
  able via Google, Yahoo!, and other        Instead, he writes about anything that flies
  search engines. Thus, someone             into his head, but he does so in a unique
  can enter a keyword that some-
                                            and humorous way, allowing him to achieve
  how relates to your blog or most
                                            mass appeal. If you’re good at making people
  recent post and then stumble
  upon your blog as a result of             laugh, go ahead and try your hand at a humor
  using an internet search engine.          blog. If you can post something that makes
                                            people laugh every day, they’ll take time out
of their day to read your blog and become a loyal follower.
    Posting personal artwork, such as
drawings, paintings, or photography, has             Smart Tip
helped some bloggers not only earn money
                                                     Once your blog is published,
from art sales and related merchandising,            you’ll need to promote it to
but also gain fans and a dedicated following         all your social networks. The fast-
for their work. Thousands of followers or            est, easiest, and most cost-effective
fans gives you, the artist, added credibility        way to quickly build an audience
and improves your real-world marketability.          is to generate positive word-of-
A popular art blog, for example, can lead            mouth about your blog. Encourage
to larger licensing, merchandising, or               your blog’s followers to tell their
                                                     friends about it. Publish a “Share”
sponsorship deals.
                                                     button or “Share” icons with each
    The same is true for musicians,                  blog entry—it’s free, easy, and
songwriters, writers, poets, and other creative      powerful.
endeavors.	 y	 sharing	 wor 	 online	 through	


                                                                                                       15
                                   a blog, it’s possible to build a dedicated fan base or following that can translate into
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   larger audiences at shows, exhibits, concerts, gallery showings, or public readings, for
                                   example.


                                                        Blog about a Publicity Stunt
                                       Another interesting approach to blogging is to chronicle something remarkable.
                                   Think of it as an ongoing publicity stunt. One of the best examples of this is the Where
                                   the Hell Is Matt? YouTube videos and blog (www.wherethehellismatt.com), an upbeat
                                   and heart-warming dance-related series of vlogs and blogs that promote world unity
                                   through dance and music. These videos, which are supported by a traditional blog
                                   and	website,	have	had	more	than	 	million	views,	and	generated	a	blog	following	in	
                                   the hundreds of millions. This audience attracted a national sponsorship for Matt’s
                                   project, which continues to grow and educate people around the world.
                                        Would	you	li e	to	ride	your	lawnmower	across	the	nation 	 erhaps	you	would	li e	
                                   to try to get a date with a famous celebrity. If this sounds like fun to you, be sure to give
                                   yourself	a	lot	of	time	to	ramp	up	publicity	for	your	stunt	before	you	ta e	off and	start	
                                   blogging about it every step of the way. Ultimately, you can generate a lot of traffic in
                                   the weeks and months leading up to whatever it is you choose to pull off. The thing to
                                   consider	is	what	happens	after	your	stunt 	How	can	you	continue	to	grow	your	blog	
                                   and	cater	to	the	audience	you’ve	developed 	


                                                                     Political Blogs
                                       Political blogs of all persuasions exist in abundance across the internet. In addition
                                   to entertainment and technology blogs, topics relating to politics are among the most
                                   prevalent in the blogosphere. Everybody has an opinion on the matters of the day. Not
                                   everybody, however, has an informed and insightful opinion, or an interesting way to
                                   communicate their opinions, thoughts, and
                                   ideas in a blog format.                             Dollar Stretcher
                                        If you would like to run a political           If you’d like to test the
                                   blog, but not assert your personal opinion,         feasibility of a topic before
                                   you could consider using your blog as a             you commit to it, use a free blog-
                                   filter to help readers wade through all             ging service (such as Blogger.com
                                                                                       or Wordpress.com) to minimize
                                   the	 political	 spin.	 ut,	 unless	 you	 offer	
                                                                                       your initial financial risk and
                                   something different or unique, there’s no
                                                                                       investment. Post a few blog entries,
                                   reason for people to access your blog and           and see how well it’s accepted by
                                   keep returning to it day after day or week          your potential audience.
                                   after week.


         16
Blogs Based on Hobbies or




                                                                                         1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
                                                Dollar Stretcher
     Special Interests                          You can create a spe-
    Many people have achieved incredible        cialized Facebook page,           for
success as bloggers simply by choosing a        free. To do this, visit www.facebook.
                                                com/pages/create and then choose
topic	they	were	already	passionate	about
                                                what type of page you want to
their hobby. In the blogosphere, you’ll         create. You can create a personal
find entertaining, informative, gossipy, and    Facebook page, or a specialized
how-to blogs about all sorts of hobbies,        page for a local business or place; a
from fishing and boating to knitting,           company, organization, or institu-
sewing, collecting, and gardening.              tion; a brand or product; an art-
    People are also successfully blogging       ist, band, or public figure; a page
                                                that’s entertainment-oriented;
about cooking, home decorating, yoga,
                                                or that is somehow related to a
travel, reading, photography, painting,         cause or community. Once you cre-
music, fashion, shopping, and countless         ate a Facebook page, you can tap
other special interest areas that thousands     Facebook’s vast global audience
of millions of other people also have an        to attract an audience for your
interest in.                                    content using a variety of free and
    The trick for these types of blogs is to    fee-based tools offered directly by
                                                Facebook.
find a niche that you know about and are
interested in, and then share your unique
knowledge and perspective about that topic. You’ll find companies that sell products
or services related to your hobby could be your potential advertisers.


                             A Company Blog
    As	you	learned	earlier,	more	than	 	percent	of	all	companies	now	utili e	some	
type	of	blog.	If	your	company	hasn’t	yet	begun	to	capitali e	on	this	inexpensive,	yet	
powerful way to communicate with potential and existing customers and clients,
chances are, it probably should.
    A company blog can be used in conjunction with a website, Facebook page, and/or
Twitter feed for example. It can provide a forum to informally share information and
be used as a powerful tool to help personify a business.
    At the same time, a company blog can be used to disseminate many different
types of information, incorporate elements of a newsletter, or be used to help build
an interactive community in which customers or clients who read the blog can post
comments, ask questions, and interact freely with company executives and/or other
customers or clients in a controlled environment.


                                                                                                17
                                       In addition to sharing news and information about a company through a blog, it
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   can be used effectively to:

                                      •	    ell	your	company’s	story
                                      •	 Introduce	readers	to	a	company’s	leaders	using	interviews,	detailed	profiles,	and	
                                         photos
                                      •	    rovide	 a	 behind the scenes	 loo 	 at	 the	 company’s	 operations	 or	 a	 tour	 of	 a	
                                           manufacturing facility
                                      •	 Share	the	company’s	philosophy
                                      •	 Offer	a	snea 	pee 	at	future	products	or	services
                                      •	    rovide	 how to	 information	 about	 using	 a	 company’s	 products services	 sup-
                                           plementing a user’s manual or installation guide, for example)
                                      •	 Compare	a	company’s	products	to	what	the	competition	offers
                                      •	 Announce	exclusive	sales	or	incentives	for	existing	customers
                                      •	    ell	customers	or	clients	about	a	contest	or	promotion
                                      •	 Allow	customers	to	share	testimonials
                                      •	 Share	details	about	an	upcoming	event	the	company	will	be	participating	in,	or	
                                         show highlights from recent events, tradeshows, or seminars
                                      •	    al 	about	charities	the	company	is	involved	with	or	how	it’s	giving	bac 	to	the	
                                           community
                                      •	     iscuss	 what	 the	 company	 is	 doing	 to	 be	 green	 and	 remain	 environmentally	
                                           friendly
                                      •	 Answer	 uestions	posed	by	your	potential	and	existing	customers	or	clients

                                       Any information you want to share that doesn’t fit into your existing company’s
                                   website can be shared using a blog. While a website might be written using a more
                                   formal writing style and convey a strong sales message, most blogs can and should be
                                   written	in	an	informal,	conversational	style	and	utili e	more	of	a	soft sell	approach	with	
                                   subtle sales messages combined with information, as well as entertaining
                                   and/or engaging information the target
                                   audience will find useful.
                                                                                         Smart Tip
                                                                                         If you ultimately become
                                       General Interest Blogs                            a skilled and experienced
                                                                                         blogger, you can generate rev-
                                       Don’t limit yourself to the topic areas           enue by offering your services to
                                   discussed thus far. There are thousands of            companies on a freelance basis as
                                   possibilities that have yet to be explored.           a blog writer or blog manager.
                                   You never know what will catch on or spark


         18
the interest of millions of people, especially at the wildfire pace that word-of-mouth




                                                                                                     1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
can	travel	across	the	internet.	If	you	have	a	cra y	idea	that	might	 ust	wor ,	go	ahead	
and give it a shot.


                    Continuous Stream of Content
    When choosing what to blog about, remember to choose an overall topic that
won’t dry up. Public interest is fickle and rarely stays on one topic for very long. So
be sure to choose a topic that has held public interest (or the interest of your target
audience) for a long time and will continue to do so in the future.
     For example, the Winter Olympics is an event that sends the whole world rushing
to media outlets for the latest news, and a blog seems perfectly suited to provide up-
to the minute	updates	and	compelling	stories	about	the	competitors.	 ut	what	do	you	
cover	after	the	closing	ceremonies,	and	then	for	the	next	three	years 	 our	blog	could	
easily sit dormant and unprofitable when the public’s interest moves on.
    No one can control public interest. People can only influence public interest and
trends, both of which can be somewhat predictable. Examine trends in the past, stick
to reliable topics, and don’t select a subject so esoteric that you limit your
audience as you choose the focus on your
blog.
                                                       Smart Tip
    As you develop your content, keep
                                                       When creating content
in mind that the attention span of your                for a traditional blog, also
audience is very short. For text-based blogs,          keep your readers’ short atten-
 eep	your	postings	short.	 i ewise,	a	video	           tion spans in mind. Get your main
published within a blog or on YouTube, for             points or message across in five
example, should be kept to between three               minutes or less.
and five minutes in length.
   If you have a topic that requires a vast amount of text or a long video to explain, for
example, consider dividing up that content into a series of short blog posts or videos.


                      Your Credibility as a Blogger
    You must have, or develop, a better-than-average familiarity with your chosen
topic	 if	 you	 want	 readers	 to	 ta e	 you	 seriously.	 Readers	 won’t	 stic 	 around	 to	 read	
things they already know or that they deem irrelevant or uninteresting.
    Therefore, you shouldn’t choose a topic that you know little or nothing about.
Chances are, if you know nothing about the topic you select now, you don’t have
too much interest in the subject. Ideally, you want to be absolutely passionate about


                                                                                                         19
                                   whatever it is you blog about since that passion will come across to your audience.
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   Plus, in the weeks and months to come, if you have a passion for your blogging topic,
                                   you’ll enjoy the whole blogging process that much more.
                                       If you can’t honestly call yourself an expert in the topic you choose, get up to
                                   speed	 uic ly	by	reading	boo s,	maga ines,	newspapers,	and	other	blogs.	 o	establish	
                                   credibility, you’ll want to choose a topic that isn’t so large that your expertise doesn’t
                                   seem plausible.
                                         Few people will ever be considered experts on the gigantic topic of “sports,” but
                                   it’s	certainly	possible	for	you	to	be	considered	an	expert	on	the	    A.	 i ewise,	it’s	
                                   doubtful that any one person will be considered an expert on “animals.” It’s more
                                   believable that someone is an expert on “training dogs.” Choose a topic of manageable
                                   si e	and	that	can	be	used	to	enhance	your	credibility.


                                                              Existing Competition
                                         efore	 you	 ta e	 on	 all	 of	 your	 competition	 in	 cyberspace,	 find	 out	 who	 that	
                                   competition is and how much of it actually exists. You’ll do yourself a disservice by
                                   entering a topic area that’s already chock-full of bloggers, unless you’ve developed a
                                   unique approach.
                                       Similarly, taking on established industry experts can be prohibitively difficult,
                                   unless your qualifications are top-notch, and again, you have a different approach to
                                   creating your content. You shouldn’t completely disregard your chosen topic if you
                                   find that it’s crowded or well-covered. While that may be what you end up doing, you
                                   should consider adjusting your tactics first.
                                        If your preferred topic is crowded, readership for that type of content may already
                                   be spread too thin across too many blogs (and other media outlets),
                                   thereby leaving all the blogs with little
                                   traffic or profit potential.
                                                                                        Smart Tip
                                        As you study your competition, take
                                                                                        The blogosphere may
                                   detailed notes in regard to how and where            seem crowded on first
                                   other people are succeeding and where                glance, but every topic has
                                   they’re	 falling	 behind.	 earn	 specifically	       countless unexplored niches.
                                   what works (in terms of your blog topic and          Plus, using your creativity, you
                                   its target audience) and improve upon or             can take a different approach to a
                                   fix what doesn’t. In other words, learn from         topic that nobody else has done.
                                                                                        Do your homework to find what
                                   your competitors’ mistakes and don’t try to
                                                                                        works best for you, based on your
                                   reinvent the wheel.
                                                                                        experience, knowledge, passion,
                                       If you’re able to formulate a new                interests, and education.
                                   approach to a topic or cover it in a new and

         20
entertaining and/or informative manner, chances are you’ll be able to attract sufficient




                                                                                            1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
traffic for your blog. And, as you’ll learn, with massive traffic comes greater revenue
generation potential.


                       Your Interest and Passion
      efore	committing	yourself	to	one	particular	topic,	reali e	that	whatever	topic	you	
choose will become the focal point of your everyday blogging life. Your interest and
passion for the topic should be strong enough to sustain you through the times when
you aren’t sure you can bring yourself to read another article on the subject, much less
write another compelling blog entry.
     Consider this carefully and objectively. You don’t want to be stuck with a blog you
can’t	stand,	and	ultimately,	a	 ob	that	you	hate	or	resent.	Remember,	you’re	potentially	
starting a moneymaking blogging “business,” which means taking the project beyond
where a mere hobbyist would go.
    When people read your blog content, it should become immediately obvious that
not only are you an expert on the subject matter but you’re also passionate about it. At
the same time, it’s essential that the blog’s readers/viewers feel as if you’re committed
to them and to meeting all of their needs, wants, and interests as they’re related to the
topic.


      Choose the Best Way to Present Your Content
    When you’re creating a traditional blog, the primary way you’ll present your
content is through the written word. However, don’t forget you can also easily
incorporate photos, graphs, charts, illustrations, animated graphics, digital slides,
tables, music, audio, video, and other multimedia content in order to get your point
across and convey your information.
    Choose the method that best caters to your target audience, keeping in mind its
attention span is very short. Then, once you choose the best method for communicating
what you have to say, focus on the best way to say it. For example, research shows that
people love to read top-10 lists as well as bulleted points that break up information
into small chunks, making it easier to understand and digest.
    That age-old adage that “a picture is worth a thousand words” is certainly true.
Instead of wasting several paragraphs describing something, can you convey the same
information	using	a	single	digital	image,	chart,	or	graph 	
      Deciding how to best communicate information within your blog is where
knowing and understanding your audience, as well as creativity, come into play. While
it’s always good to incorporate one or more photos into a blog post to break up the

                                                                                                  21
                                   text, only use images that are directly relevant to your content. Avoid unnecessary
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   distractions that will clutter the screen, and of course, make sure you have permission
                                   to use whatever photos or artwork you want to feature within your blog so you don’t
                                   violate anyone else’s copyrights or trademarks.


                                             Create a Posting Schedule and Stick to It
                                       Once you commit to becoming a blogger, figure out how often you’ll publish new
                                   posts, and promote your schedule to your audience. Then, make sure you stick to that
                                   schedule. For example, if your audience expects a new blog posting every Monday
                                   at 3:00 P.M. (EST), make sure you always publish your latest posting exactly when
                                   promised. Failing to adhere to a regular posting schedule will make it very difficult to
                                   build and then retain an audience.
                                         efore	committing	to	a	schedule,	ma e	sure	you	have	enough	content	to	meet	that	
                                   schedule over the long term. If you publish new postings daily, you don’t want to run
                                   out of fresh ideas after a few weeks or months.
                                        Even if you publish a new post once every two weeks or once a month, that’s fine
                                   as long as that’s what your audience expects, although frequency and consistency will
                                   allow you to grow your audience much faster.



                                                       Selecting a Blog Name
                                       Selecting a suitable name for your blog is one of the more creative steps as you
                                   get started. Your blog’s name should be creative, memorable, intriguing, and quickly
                                   summari e	what	your	blog	is	all	about	and	who	it’s	of	interest	to.	It	will	be	how	people	
                                   find	and	recogni e	you.	
                                       When naming your blog, there are a few guidelines you should follow. First, create
                                   a	descriptive	name	that’s	appropriate	for	your	blog	topic.	 et’s	say	a	blogger	named	
                                   Alex	decides	to	use	the	simple	name	of	 Alex’s	 log. 	While	this	title	is	accurate,	it	
                                   doesn’t give readers any indication as to what Alex’s blog is all about or who it’s of
                                   interest to.
                                       A blog’s name should tell readers how they’ll benefit from reading or viewing the
                                   blog. The title of Alex’s Cute Dog Photo Blog, for example, makes it clear that Alex’s
                                   blog	offers	photos	of	cute	dogs.	Readers	loo ing	to	brighten	their	day	by	loo ing	at	
                                   adorable doggy photos will now know this is the perfect blog for them.
                                        our	blog’s	name	should	also	potentially	wor 	nicely	as	its	 R 	 domain	name ,	
                                   which means it should be easy to spell and intuitive for the visitor. For example, if


         22
the blog’s title is Alex’s Cute Dog Photo




                                                                                              1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
Blog,	 some	 R s	 you	 might	 consider	             Smart Tip
registering	 are	 AlexsCute og hoto log.            Be sure your chosen blog
com, CuteDogPhotos.com, or some easy-to-            title isn’t already in use.
remember derivative of the blog’s main title.       This could lead to confusion
                                                    for your readers and legal prob-
    Another example is the blog Jason Rich’s        lems for you. Do some searches
Featured App of the Week. This blog focuses         on Google (www.google.com),
on new and innovative Apple iPhone and              Technorati (http://technorati.
iPad apps that can help someone become              com/blogs/directory), IceRocket
more productive using their iOS mobile              (www.icerocket.com), or Blog
device.	 he	 custom	 R 	 for	 this	 blog	           Search Engine (www.blogsearch-
is   www.FeaturedAppOfTheWeek.com,                  engine.com), for example, to see if
                                                    your proposed blog title is already
while	the	 R 	assigned	to	it	by	Word ress.
                                                    being used or somehow infringes
com     is  http://featuredappoftheweek.
                                                    on a copyright or trademark. Also,
wordpress.com.                                      be sure to search YouTube.com.



                   Domain Name Concerns
    Keep your site’s domain name in mind when naming your blog. Ideally, your blog’s
name should be your blog’s domain name to keep things simple for your readers.
Therefore, you should choose a brief and memorable name that works well with
“.com” tagged onto the end of it.
   Going back to our previous example, if Alex were to name his site Alex’s Archive of
Adorable Puppy Photography, the sheer length of the name could easily overwhelm the
constraints of a suitable domain name.
       he	 R ,	www.alexsarchiveofadorablepuppyphotography.com,	isn’t	exactly	easy	to	
type,	let	alone	remember.	Shortening	the	name	to	Cute og log.com	would	wor 	better.	
  his	 R 	is	memorable,	brief,	easy	to	spell,	and	appropriate	for	the	sub ect	matter.
    Whatever you end up choosing, expect it to be permanent. Changing the name of
your blog down the road will not only confuse your readers and harm your established
brand credibility, but it will wreak havoc on any links and backlinks (which will be
explained later) you’ve strewn around the blogosphere.
     If readers expect a link will take them to Alex’s Blog, but they end up at the newly
renamed Cute K-9 Blog, they’ll think an error has occurred and will likely leave your
site. Also, search engines will take a while to catch up to the switch, if they manage to
at all. It’s unlikely that searches for the established Alex’s Blog will send people to the
new Cute K-9 Blog without some fancy keyword shenanigans on Alex’s part.


                                                                                                 23
                                                                                            Choosing a
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                     Smart Tip
                                     If you choose to go by
                                     another name as a blogger,
                                                                                            Pseudonym
                                     it’s always a good idea to create
                                     a pseudonym that’s memorable.                  Choosing a pseudonym for yourself
                                     Keep it simple, short, easy to            isn’t necessary, but some bloggers choose
                                     remember, and witty if possible.          to do it, either for the added layer of online
                                     Also, don’t violate anyone else’s         protection or for the plain fun of it. Who
                                     copyrights or trademarks.                 wouldn’t	want	to	create	an	online	alter	ego 	
                                                                               If you decide to do this, it has its pros and
                                   cons. For example, you can say things anonymously. However, by using a fake name or
                                   persona, it detracts from your credibility.
                                        he	s y’s	the	limit	when	renaming	yourself ust	avoid	choosing	anything	that’s	
                                   inappropriate or offensive. You wouldn’t want to alienate any potential followers.
                                       There are potential drawbacks to using your real name. First, if you run a blog
                                   that feeds off any aspect of your personal life, you run the risk of revealing too much
                                   personal information and making yourself vulnerable to identity thieves.
                                        Second, if you write any sort of highly opinionated or “questionable” material, you
                                   may be shooting yourself in the foot when applying for your next job, beginning a new
                                   relationship, or even applying to schools. It’s no secret that people often search the internet
                                   for the names of prospective employees, dates, and school applicants. If they come across
                                   your blog and read something that concerns them, you could be passed over.
                                       The benefits of keeping your personal and professional blogging career separate could
                                   be worth it, but it all depends on your personal goals and your goals for the blog itself.
                                        If you aren’t publishing highly opinionated or questionable material on your blog
                                   and just seek to provide a valuable, thoughtful service for readers, using your real name
                                   is probably a good move, especially if you want to establish or build upon your real-
                                   world credibility as an expert in your field.


                                         Write Like a Blogger                            Smart Tip
                                        Unlike a company website or an annual            Set up a separate email
                                   report, for example, most blogs should be             address for your blog that’s
                                   written in an easy-to-read, conversational            different from your personal or
                                                                                         existing business email address.
                                   style that your target audience will
                                                                                         This will help guard your personal
                                   understand and relate to. Keep in mind,               address from spam, stalkers, and
                                   your blog may be read using a computer,               the other security hazards.
                                   interactive TV set, a tablet, or a smartphone.

         24
In	other	words,	the	si e	of	the	screen	your	readers	will	be	using	will	vary	greatly,	so	




                                                                                                1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
plan the layout, design, and content of your blog accordingly.
    Here are some basic strategies to incorporate when writing text and creating
content for a blog:

   •	 Get	right	to	the	point	and	 eep	postings	short.	Remember,	the	attention	span	
      of your audience is very short.
   •	 In	your	posts,	answer	 uestions	related	to	whatever	topics	you’re	writing	about,	
      including: who, what, where, when, why, and how.
   •	 se	a	conversational	and	friendly	tone,	but	be	professional.
   •	 Help	 to	 maintain	 a	 professional	 image	 by	 proofreading	 your	 wor 	 carefully	
      before publishing it. Your posts should never contain spelling, punctuation, or
      grammar errors.
   •	 se	short	sentences	that	do	not	contain	overly	complicated	words.	Always	 eep	
      your audience in mind, and write using language and vocabulary they’ll under-
      stand.
   •	 Keep	paragraph	lengths	down	to	two	or	three	sentences	each,	and	utili e	plenty	
      of white space on the screen to avoid clutter and make the content look more
      presentable.
   •	 on’t	overuse	different	typestyles,	li e	bold,	italic,	or	underlined	text.	 his	can	
      be distracting.
   •	 Choose	an	easy to read	font	and	ma e	sure	the	text	appears	large	enough	so	it’s	
      easy	to	view	on	any	si e	screen.	Avoid	a	font	si e	that’s	smaller	than	 	points.
   •	 Ma e	sure	the	color	scheme	you	use	is	consistent	with	your	image	or	brand,	and	
      that it too is easy on the eyes and not at all distracting.
   •	 Whenever	possible,	use	photos	and	graphics	to	reduce	the	amount	of	text	in	a	
      blog entry and to help tell a story or demonstrate a key point.
   •	 on’t	 ramble	 or	 include	 too	 much	 information	 within	 a	 single	 blog	 entry.	 If	
      necessary, divide a topic into multiple parts.
   •	 ut	 yourself	 in	 your	 target	 audience’s	 shoes	 and	 ma e	 sure	 the	 blog	 con-
      tent	 you’re	 creating	 is	 interesting,	 well organi ed,	 entertaining,	 informative,	
      unique, and engaging.
   •	 Maintain	 your	 branding	 and	 image.	 he	 content	 you	 publish	 as	 part	 of	 your	
      blog should be consistent with everything else you’re doing online and in the
      real world.
   •	 se	bulleted	or	numbered	lists	within	your	posts	to	 uic ly	convey	informa-
      tion.	 osts	 that	 focus	 on	 a	 op	 ,	 op	 ,	 or	 op	 	 list	 tend	 to	 be	 popular	
      among audiences.

                                                                                                   25
                                      •	    e	sure	to	properly	brand	your	blog	using	a	logo,	tag	line,	and	other	relevant	
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                           content.

                                       If you’re producing a podcast or vlog, many of the same strategies can be used. In
                                   these situations, if you’re using background music or sound effects, for example, make
                                   sure	it’s	suitable	for	the	content	and	not	distracting.	 i ewise,	be	sure	your	audio	or	
                                   video content offers contact information that makes it easier for your audience to
                                   reach you, if applicable.
                                       Again, keep the length of your podcast or vlog short, keeping in mind the short
                                   attention span of your target audience. Also, make sure the production quality is good
                                   enough to meet or exceed the audience’s expectations and maintain your reputation
                                   and image.


                                        Strategies for Producing Quality Videos (Vlogs)
                                       When it comes to producing video-based content these days, you’ll definitely
                                   want	to	utili e	a	camera	capable	of	shooting	high definition	 H 	 uality	video	and	
                                   take advantage of a camera that allows you to connect an external microphone so
                                   you can capture professional-quality audio. This is particularly important if you’re
                                   creating video content on behalf of a business that needs to maintain a professional
                                   reputation.
                                       As you’ll learn by reading the book Ultimate Guide to YouTube for Business	 by	Jason	
                                   R.	 Rich Entrepreneur	 ress ,	 there	 is	 no	 perfect	 formula	 for	 creating	 a	 successful	
                                   YouTube video or vlog. What works for one company in order to reach a specific
                                   audience will not necessarily work for another.
                                       However,	if	you	analy e	other	successful	videos	on	 ou ube,	particularly	videos	
                                   produced by your competitors or that target the same audience as you’re striving to
                                   reach, you’ll probably discover some common elements.
                                       Many popular videos produced by small businesses typically have some or all of
                                   the following traits and production elements:

                                      •	     he	video	is	short	and	to	the	point.	Keep	your	videos	under	three	minutes	in	
                                           length.
                                      •	 Within	the	first	few	seconds	of	the	video,	what	the	video	is	about	and	what	it	
                                         offers is quickly and clearly explained to the viewer.
                                      •	     he	video’s	call	to	action	is	incorporated	into	the	video	near	the	very	begin-
                                           ning, and then repeated several times within the video, including near the very
                                           end. The call to action begins by stating what the reward is for the viewer who
                                           follows through and completes the call to action.


         26
   •	      he	video	somehow	incorporates	contact	information	for	the	person	or	organi-




                                                                                                      1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
          ation	that	created	it.	 his	can	be	done	using	voiceovers,	stated	by	the	people	
        featured within your video, using titles/captions, and/or using annotations or
        links embedded within the video itself.
   •	    he	 video	 is	 targeted	 to	 a	 very	 specific	 audience	 and	 has	 a	 specific	 goal	 or	
        objective.
   •	     he	content	of	the	video	is	somehow	uni ue	and	tries	to	set	itself	apart	from	
        the other videos on YouTube.
   •	     he	video	offers	information	that	the	viewer	perceives	as	useful,	informative,	
        entertaining, highly engaging, educational, or somehow directly relevant to
        what they’re looking for, want, or need.
   •	 In	terms	of	production	 uality,	the	video	is	professional	loo ing	and	offers	good	
      quality sound.
   •	     he	video	uses	some	type	of	nondistracting	bac ground	music.
   •	     he	video	offers	clearly	defined	and	easy to understand	information	that	the	
        viewer doesn’t have to wait too long to receive. The information is not buried
        in clutter or hidden by eye candy or bells and whistles that can be distracting
        or confusing to the viewer. For example, animated shot or scene transitions are
        not overused, and the background music is set at a proper level and is appropri-
        ate to the content.
   •	     he	 loo 	 and	 messaging	 within	 the	 video	 is	 consistent	 with	 the	 company’s	
        brand and reputation.
   •	     he	title	of	the	video	is	appropriate,	descriptive,	and	directly	to	the	point.	When	
        someone sees the video’s title, they immediately have a good idea about what they
        can expect from the video. This is supported by a carefully worded description
        and accompanied by a carefully selected group of relevant tags and keywords.

    With these common traits in mind, as you explore YouTube or vlogging for
yourself, you’ll easily discover very popular videos that follow none of these suggestions
and	 that	 offer	 a	 truly	 uni ue	 or	 vastly	 different	 approach.	 Remember,	 there	 are	 no	
hardcore rules to follow, since video production is a highly creative endeavor. Focus
on originality and ways you can communicate your core message as quickly and easily
as possible to your intended audience.

                  Choose the Right Topics to Create Videos About
    Once you have a general idea about what your overall goals are for YouTube,
you’ve defined your audience, and have outlined your primary message, it’s time to
brainstorm ideas for individual videos. Start by determining what you want to say.


                                                                                                         27
                                   Then, based on your video production skills, equipment, and capabilities, consider the
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   very best way to present that content.
                                       For each potential idea you come up with, ask yourself these questions:

                                      •	 Is	my	idea	consistent	with	what	I’m	trying	to	accomplish	on	 ou ube	or	with	
                                         my	vlog
                                      •	 What	is	the	best	approach	to	ta e	with	my	idea	within	the	video
                                      •	 Will	my	idea	and	my	intended	approach	appeal	to	my	intended	audience
                                      •	     o	I	have	the	s ill,	 nowledge,	and	proper	e uipment	to	produce	the	video	I’m	
                                           envisioning,	and	do	it	well
                                      •	 Can	the	video	be	produced	within	my	budget,	without	compromising	produc-
                                         tion	 uality
                                      •	 How	 do	 I	 want	 the	 audience	 to	 react	 to	 the	 video 	 What	 will	 be	 the	 call	 to	
                                         action
                                      •	 How	do	I	anticipate	the	audience	will	actually	react	to	the	video
                                      •	 Will	watching	this	video	entice	the	viewer	to	watch	other	videos	already	pub-
                                         lished on my YouTube channel or vlog, to somehow make contact with me or
                                         my	company,	and or	place	an	order	for	my	product service,	if	applicable
                                      •	 While	someone	is	watching	the	video,	or	immediately	after	it’s	over,	will	they	
                                         be	motivated	to	clic 	on	the	 i e 	button,	give	it	a	good	rating,	write	and	post	
                                         a favorable comment, and/or share the video (or a link to it) with their online
                                         friends	 via	 aceboo ,	Google ,	or	 witter,	for	example
                                      •	     o	 the	 video,	 its	 message,	 its	 call	 to	 action,	 and	 its	 overall	 approach	 fit	 with	
                                           what I’m already doing for myself or my company elsewhere in cyberspace,
                                           using	 aceboo ,	Google ,	and or	 witter,	for	example

                                       During the entire pre-production phase of the vlog, and then later when engaged
                                   in post production for your videos, go back and ask yourself these questions again and
                                   again to make sure you’re remaining on target.


                                               Why Many Videos Fail to Capture Its Intended Audience
                                       Whether you’re vlogging or incorporating short videos into your traditional
                                   blog, there are many reasons why videos fail to attract an audience. Some of the more
                                   common reasons include:

                                      •	     hey’re	poorly	produced	and	boring	to	watch.
                                      •	     he	content	of	the	video	is	unoriginal	and	doesn’t	stand	out	from	the	competition.



         28
   •	 It	fails	to	cater	to	its	target	audience.




                                                                                                   1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
   •	     he	 content	 is	 not	 entertaining,	 informative,	 or	 perceived	 as	 containing	 any	
        type	of	valuable	information it	does	not	address	any	type	of	wor 	or	need.
   •	 It’s	too	long	and	fails	to	hold	the	viewer’s	attention.
   •	     he	 content	 doesn’t	 properly	 ta e	 advantage	 of	 the	 visual	 aspect	 of	 multime-
        dia, so it fails to keep the viewer’s attention. If the viewer wants to just listen to
        content	that	doesn’t	utili e	visuals,	he she	could	download	or	stream	a	podcast	
        or audiobook, or simply turn on the radio. Consider ways to make your videos
        visually compelling.
   •	     he	video	is	given	a	nondescriptive	title	and	has	poorly	chosen	tags	associated	
        with it, which makes it hard or impossible to find using YouTube’s Search fea-
        ture or a search engine.
   •	     he	video	isn’t	properly	promoted	after	it’s	published	on	 ou ube.
   •	 Early	 on,	 the	 video	 receives	 disli es, 	 low	 ratings,	 and	 negative	 comments,	
      which indicates to those who stumble upon it later that it’s not worth watching.
   •	     he	 producer	 or	 star 	 of	 the	 video	 has	 a	 negative	 reputation	 online,	 which	
        turns potential viewers off to what the video has to say.

     Now that you know some of the more common reasons why many videos published
on YouTube or the internet fail to attract an audience, you can more easily avoid these
pitfalls by taking a different approach when presenting your unique content to your
target audience.
     As a vlogger, it’s often very appealing to simply sit and stand in front of a video
camera and start talking. This can be a quick and simple approach to take, but using a
single “talking head” shot which consists of a closeup of you looking into the camera
will	get	very	boring	for	the	viewer	after	 	to	 	seconds.	 ry	to	use	multiple	shooting	
angles or incorporate some type of movement into your video to avoid overusing a
“talking head” shot.



           Choosing a Platform for Growth
     Now that a few of the intangibles are out of the way, it’s time to start planning the
logistical aspects of getting your blog up and running. There are countless options
when it comes to blog creation and hosting services, and to cover them all in one book
isn’t plausible, especially since new blogging services and technologies are constantly
being introduced.



                                                                                                    29
Start Your Own Blogging Business



                                     Let YouTube Host Your Videos . . .
                                     There Are Major Benefits

                                                  I f you’re utilizing video within a traditional blog, or vlogging,
                                     strongly consider having your videos hosted by YouTube and creating your own
                                     YouTube channel for yourself or your business.
                                        There are many benefits to doing this. For example, YouTube offers a wide
                                     range of free, online-based tools for branding a YouTube channel and then editing
                                     and promoting your videos.
                                         Plus, because YouTube is owned by Google, your video (vlog) can automatically
                                     be listed within the Google and YouTube search engines, which are the two most
                                     popular search engines in the world. This typically happens within hours (not
                                     days or weeks) after a new video is published on YouTube.
                                        Listings for your individual videos within Google and YouTube’s search engines
                                     will help to dramatically improve the SEO (search engine optimization) for your
                                     website, blog, vlogs, and/or videos.



                                      Chapter	 	 covers	 the	 most	 popular	 blogging	 options,	 including	 logger.com,	
                                   WordPress.com, and TypePad.com, plus touches on Twitter.com, Facebook.com,
                                   YouTube.com, Tumblr.com, and Instagram.com, for example.
                                       First, let’s look at the difference between blogging software and a blog hosting
                                   service.


                                               Hosted Blogging Services vs. Installed
                                                       Server Applications
                                        There are two main types of blogging platforms: hosted services and server
                                   applications.	 oth	perform	basically	the	same	tas 	of	publishing	a	blog.	Chances	are,	
                                   as you get started, any option you choose will meet your needs for creating a basic,
                                   straightforward,	traditional,	text based	blog.	However,	if	you	want	to	add	speciali ed	
                                   functionality, interactivity, or unique features to your blog, you’ll want to pay careful
                                   attention to what’s offered by each type of service or software product.
                                       There are significant technological differences between hosted blogging services
                                   and installed server applications. The method you choose will have a significant impact
                                   on how you run your blog in the future, as well as on your operational costs.
         30
     If you’re not at all techno-savvy, the easiest and fastest way to launch a blog is




                                                                                              1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
to	 use	 a	 free	 blog	 hosting	 service,	 such	 as	 logger.com,	 Word ress.com,	 or	 even	
Facebook. When you use one of these services, all of the tools needed are online-
based, and absolutely no programming is required. You simply choose a template for
your blog and then add the text, photos, video clips, graphics, and/or other multimedia
content into your posts using the keyboard or using a drag-and-drop or cut-and-paste
interface.
     Using a hosted blogging service, you can establish your blog and publish your first
blog post in well under an hour (or however long it takes to compose the blog entry).
All you need is a computer, tablet, smartphone, or internet-enabled device that has a
web browser installed. If you’re using a smartphone or tablet, such as an iPhone or iPad,
for example, many of the popular blog hosting services (including WordPress.com and
  logger.com 	offer	free	speciali ed	apps	that	allow	you	to	create	and	manage	your	blog	
with those devices. Thus, you can work on your blog from virtually anywhere.


                       Hosted Blogging Services
    A hosted blogging service is an entirely web-based option for publishing a blog.
All aspects of your blog’s creation, publishing, and management are done online,
using online-based tools. All you need is access to the web from any standard internet
browser	 or	a	speciali ed	app	on	your	tablet	or	smartphone .
    All your interactions with the blogging service, including setting up and the
posting of new entries to your own blog, is done through the blogging service’s
website. There’s nothing to download or install, no programming is required, and you
can begin blogging immediately. This is also a very low-cost option. In fact, many of
the hosted blogging services are free of charge.
     To first establish your blog, you’ll need to choose a blog hosting service, and then
register with that service. This process takes no more than a few minutes. To register
initially, you’ll need to supply basic information about yourself, including your name
and email address.
    Once	 registered,	 you’re	 given	 a	 web	 address	 R 	 for	 your	 blog.	 our	 blog’s	
address, at least initially, will be some extension of the blogging service’s address. Some
services allow you to choose this extension, and some assign it to you. Your new blog’s
address could take any of several different formats.
    To make things easy for your followers, ultimately what you’ll want to do is register
an easy-to-remember domain name, and then forward it to your assigned blog address.
   For casual bloggers, the provided address will usually suffice, but you can register
your	own	custom	domain	name	for	under	       	per	year	using	a	service	li e	Go addy	
(www.godaddy.com). Once you register a domain name, you can forward the registered
                                                                                                     31
                                     R 	 to	 any	 website	 address,	 such	 as	 the	
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   one provided to you by your blog hosting              Smart Tip
                                   service.                                              Ultimately, your goal as
                                        The benefit of using a custom domain             a blogger should be to
                                                                                         get your readers to subscribe
                                   name is that you can advertise your own
                                                                                         to your blog. This way, they can
                                   easy-to-remember and more professional                receive automatic emails when
                                   domain name, which would automatically                you publish new content, or the
                                   redirect visitors to your blog.                       RSS reader they use will auto-
                                          or	 example,	 when	 the	 blog	 Jason	          matically download your blog’s
                                   Rich’s	 eatured	 App	 of	 the	 Wee 	 was	             content and make it available to
                                   registered with the WordPress.com                     the reader without them hav-
                                                                                         ing to manually visit the blog by
                                   service,	 it	 was	 assigned	 the	 R 	 http
                                                                                         entering a URL into their browser
                                   featuredappoftheweek.wordpress.com. To
                                                                                         each time. The ability to add a
                                   make things easier for the blog’s audience,           “Subscribe” button to your blog is
                                   the	 R 	 www. eaturedAppOf heWee .                    built into many blogging services
                                   com” was registered using GoDaddy.com                 and platforms, or it can easily be
                                   and forwarded to the appropriate place.               added using a plug-in or widget.
                                   Now, someone who wants to access this
                                   blog can simply enter www.FeaturedAppOfTheWeek into their browser, as opposed
                                   to	a	more	complex	or	confusing	 R .
                                        Many of the popular blogging services have multiple levels of service, ranging from
                                   a basic, free service to a more expensive, fully featured one. As your blog outgrows the
                                   basic level of service, your monthly fees may increase. The good news is the top level
                                   of service isn’t very expensive (usually less than $30 per month).
                                        For a traditional, text-based blog, a free service is usually more than adequate for
                                   most bloggers. At the same time, producing and hosting a podcast is also free, as is
                                   creating your own YouTube channel, which can be used to showcase your YouTube
                                   videos (vlogs).
                                        In the past, one of the main disadvantages to hosted blogging services was the
                                   limited	 ability	 to	 truly	 customi e	 your	 blog.	 hese	 services	 use	 prefab	 templates	
                                   that	 a	 blogger	 can	 choose	 from	 and	 then	 customi e.	 However,	 with	 all	 the	 recent	
                                   technologies,	the	services	still	rely	on	templates,	but	each	is	extremely	customi able	
                                   from a visual standpoint. The only potential limitation is if you want to add features
                                   and functionality to your blog that are unusual or that the service doesn’t support.
                                        Many third parties now offer widgets that add functionality to blogs hosted
                                   by	 specific	 blog	 hosting	 services,	 such	 as	 logger.com	 or	 Word ress.com.	 While	 a	
                                   template	provides	a	design	that	the	blogger	can	then	customi e,	adding	widgets	to	a	
                                   blog gives it added functionality, such as the ability to display a slide show, automatically
                                   publish news headlines, or adding a “Share” button to a blog entry.

         32
                                                    If you use a hosted blogging service and




                                                                                               1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
  Dollar Stretcher                              their servers go down for any amount of
  Most domain name                              time, you’re left largely without recourse
  registrars offer a dis-                       (with the major blogging services, however,
  count on registration fees if you            this is a very rare occurrence). If you sign
  purchase more than one year at
                                               on with an established and reputable
  a time. If you’re sure you would
  like the selected domain for a               service, this shouldn’t be a large concern
  while, buy two, three, or four years         for you, as they no doubt have a robust
  upfront to save money.                       network and highly skilled technicians, plus
                                               bac ups.	 ut	if	you	host	your	own	blogging	
  It’s also possible to register multi-
  ple domain names and have them               application or use a separate web host, you
  all forward to the same blog. This           could be required to take a more active role
  can be useful for marketing pur-             in getting the site back online. (This might
  poses or to help you promote your            be more responsibility than you want or
  blog to specific audiences.                  need initially, unless you’re creating a blog
                                               for a well-established company.)
     Another potential drawback of hosted blogging services is that your blog will be
on a server with thousands of other blogs. If one of those blogs has a huge traffic
spike, the server’s system resources (memory, processor, bandwidth) could potentially
be eaten up by the popular blog, taking resources away from your blog and slowing
down service for your readers. Again, if you use one of the major blogging services,
this won’t be an issue.
    When you’re shopping for a hosted blogging service, in addition to the concerns
already	listed,	also	consider	the	si e	and	reputation	of	the	service.	 on’t	try	to	save	a	
few bucks per month by going with a small and unknown service. Stick with names
you	 now	and	can	trust.	 logger.com,	for	example,	is	owned	and	operated	by	Google.
     The main advantages to hosted blogging
services are that they’re all easy to set up, have
a relatively low cost of entry (often free), they     Smart Tip
provide a nice selection of features, and tech        Many blogging services
support is readily available. These services          offer free or low-cost plans.
also typically offer hundreds of different            Try out a few before you select
design templates, plus many widgets you can           just one. Your time and money
add	to	customi e	the	loo 	and	functionality	          will be well-spent. Find blogs you
                                                      particularly like or that have the
of	your	blog	 easily with	no	 programming	
                                                      look, functionality, and features
required.                                             you want for your blog, and deter-
    If you don’t have a website design or             mine what service is used to host
technical background, and you just want               each of them.
to focus on creating and publishing a blog,

                                                                                                   33
Start Your Own Blogging Business



                                     Need More Technical Expertise?
                                     Seek Out Professional Help

                                                  I nstalling a blogging application on a web server requires some
                                     familiarity with FTP, file permissions, and directory structure. It can be daunting,
                                     but not impossible, for those unfamiliar with these concepts to initially set up
                                     and then properly run the application.
                                         If you opt to take this route, which is common if your company already hosts
                                     a website and you want to add a blog to the existing website, consider hiring
                                     a freelance website designer/programmer to help you initially establish and
                                     publish the blog. Once it’s set up, updating the blog with new posts is always a
                                     straightforward process that even a non-tech-savvy person can handle.
                                         You can find and hire a reputable and skilled website designer/programmer
                                     from a service like eLance (www.elance.com). This can be done for as little as $200
                                     to $300 to get you started.



                                   using one of the blog services described within Chapter 2, for example, is definitely
                                   your best bet.


                                                       Installed Server Applications
                                       If you’ll be operating a blog on behalf of a company, and you know the blog
                                   will receive a significant level of traffic, or if you must have specific features and
                                   functionality within the blog that the traditional blog services don’t offer, then using
                                   an installed server application for your blog is probably the right way to go, assuming
                                   you have the knowledge and resources to use it.
                                       An installed server application is a program that you, the user, install on your own
                                   web	server	or	web	host	account.	Available	blogging	server	applications	range	in	si e	
                                   and quality from small hobbyist scripts to large commercial applications. There are
                                   free, open-source applications, as well as expensive, proprietary ones.
                                       Experiment with the open-source software blogging applications first, as these
                                   don’t cost anything to use. You’ll probably discover that many of them are better
                                   quality than their commercial counterparts.
                                        Running	your	own	blogging	application	allows	for	infinite	control	over	your	blog,	
                                   its design, and its overall functionality and performance. If you’re familiar with the

         34
code in which the application was written,




                                                                                                  1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
there’s nothing stopping you from making            Dollar Stretcher
any changes you deem necessary. Don’t               Using free, open-source
let the idea of tinkering in code scare you         software and a low-cost
away from this option; most users never             web host offers an inexpensive
find it necessary because most of these             blog setup that has plenty of room
applications are well-polished and easy-to-         to grow and customize in the
                                                    future.
use. Plus, you can always hire a freelance
programmer/website designer from a
service	 such	 as	 elance.com	 to	 help	 you	 customi e	 your	 blog’s	 programming,	 if	 you	
deem it absolutely necessary. Information about downloading and installing a few of
these applications are covered within Chapter 2.
     The main benefit of using an installed application is that you’ll enjoy more control
over every aspect of running your blog. The web server will be under your control
(either humming along in your basement or through your web hosting provider), as
well as the application, advertising integration, and system backups.
    One major drawback to this method is that because you have all the control, you also
have all of the responsibility. If the server goes down, it will be up to you to fix it (unless
you’re using a web hosting provider, who can help you with outages). If the blogging
application won’t load properly, it will be up to you to fix it. And if the advertising
doesn’t load properly, it will be up to you to make nice with your sponsors . . . and fix it.
Again, this option is for people with more technical backgrounds, or who need very
speciali ed	functionality	in	con unction	with	their	blog.
    You’ll need to register a domain name if you choose this method of running a
blog (it’s not an option), and you’ll likely need to pay monthly hosting fees, based on
storage space and bandwidth requirements. This method may be more expensive in
the beginning, but as your blog grows, your expenses will probably not grow with it.
So, down the road, as your blog-related advertising or merchandising revenue rises,
your profits most likely won’t be eaten up by higher service fees.



                Suitability for Your Content
    When researching the various blogging platforms, be sure to consider your
intended content. In terms of storage, functionality, and bandwidth, for example, your
needs will be vastly different if you’ll be operating a traditional text-based blog versus
publishing podcasts or videos.
    All the traffic analysis and ad network integration in the world won’t help you if
the service doesn’t allow you to post photos on your photo blog. The first thing to look

                                                                                                      35
                                   for in a blogging service or application is the ability to handle the content you wish to
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                   include within your blog.
                                        In some cases, a blog is comprised simply of text, hyperlinks, and photos. To meet
                                   the needs of this type of blog, any blog service you choose will be able to handle all
                                   the	 content	 you	 need.	 ut	 as	 the	 blogging	 phenomenon	 has	 expanded,	 so	 have	 the	
                                   requirements of the bloggers. To keep up with the competition, you may need your
                                   blog to play audio clips, videos, Flash animations, or have some level of interactivity.
                                     e	sure	to	chec 	out	the	feature	lists	of	each	blog	platform.	



                                                         Advertising Capacity
                                        Depending on the goals of your blog, you may choose to generate revenue from
                                   it by displaying ads from other companies. Most of the blogging services have built-in
                                   advertising capabilities, plus the ability to quickly integrate Google AdSense ads or
                                   other forms of display or search advertising ads (which will be explained in Chapter 4).
                                       This functionality makes generating revenue by displaying ads relatively easy,
                                   assuming your blog receives significant traffic and the displayed ads interest your
                                   blog’s audience. Popular ad networks, such as Google’s AdSense, sometimes affiliate
                                   themselves with a particular blogging service to enable users of that service to install
                                   their ads in a few steps.
                                       Once your blog begins drawing serious traffic, you may outgrow Google AdSense
                                   advertising, and depending on the blog service you ultimately use, incorporating other
                                   outside ad networks may not be allowed or technically possible.
                                       There may come a time in your blogging life when you’ll want to solicit individual
                                   advertisers and/or belong to multiple ad networks. Therefore, you should find a
                                   blogging service that not only makes advertising easy in the beginning but also allows
                                   for expansion. Ask the blog service providers if they lock you into a single ad network
                                   and if they allow access to your blog’s template code for more ad integration later.
                                                                             Advertising integration is covered in more
                                                                             detail within Chapters 2 and 4.
                                               Beware!
                                                 Some blogging ser-
                                                 vices don’t allow
                                           advertising by bloggers.
                                                                                     Future Growth
                                     Don’t assume that your ads are
                                     allowed. Check first before regis-             logging	 trends	 change	 uic ly	 and	
                                     tering with a blog hosting service.      new technologies are constantly being
                                                                              introduced. Thus your needs as a blogger

         36
will evolve. For example, when blogs first started to become popular, they were read




                                                                                            1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
primarily on computer screens. Today, many people access blogs, podcasts, and vlogs
from wireless mobile devices, such as tablets and smartphones. Make sure your blog
accommodates these technologies by auto-formatting content on smaller screens, for
example.
     Plan on the audience for your blog growing over time, which means greater need
for storage space and bandwidth. If you choose to use a blog service, it may have traffic
and	storage	maximums especially	for	its	free	services.	 ou	may	find	that	as	you	grow,	
so will the fees for maintaining your blog, which may or may not be a deciding factor
for you. Again, you’ll want to consider the purpose of your blog, the functionality
you’d like to incorporate, your long-term goals, and your intended audience before
choosing a blog hosting service.
     At the most basic level for a traditional blog, your blogging service will need
to provide archiving, visitor comments, and easy-to-use posting and design tools.
Archiving, for example, is a key feature to consider. You’ll need the ability to archive
all your posts so your readers can access anything you’ve written since the start of the
blog. This archiving should be accessible using keyword searches, posted blog entry
listings, and via hyperlinks, for example.
    If you choose to host your own blogging software, archiving should be built
into any application you choose so that won’t be as much of a problem. However,
your web host may have traffic and storage restrictions. There are so many web
hosts on the internet, finding a cheap and reliable host for your blog shouldn’t be
too difficult, provided you do your pre-planning and research to determine your
needs.




                            Customization
    As your blog grows and you become more familiar with the platform and subject
you’ve chosen, you’ll no doubt begin to fine-tune the whole operation for better
speed, performance, search engine ratings, and functionality. If you’re using a hosted
blogging service, the amount of tinkering you’re allowed to do may be somewhat
limited.
     Understandably, if the blogging service wants its service to remain fast and
reliable, it can’t allow all its customers access to the site’s code and allow them to
tinker with it. Some sites do allow bloggers access to their blog template source code,
which	provides	for	enough	customi ation	to	satisfy	the	average	blogger.	If,	however,	
you’re the type of person who likes to bury your hands in the guts of an engine to

                                                                                                37
                                                                              s uee e	out	the	last	little	bit	of	horsepower,	
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                               Beware!                        you may not be satisfied with the template
                                                  Customizing a blog’s        customi ation	restrictions	imposed	by	many	
                                                  application code            blogging services. As you do your research,
                                            should only be undertaken         as 	about	customi ation.
                                     by those who understand the
                                     programming language in which                  If you know already that you can’t live
                                     the application was written, and          with	 customi ation	 restrictions,	 your	 best	
                                     only if the application’s user            bet is to use a blogging application on a
                                     license allows.                           separate web hosting account. There are
                                                                               plenty of blogging applications that allow
                                   bloggers to tinker to no end. Some make it easy, with intricate configuration menus,
                                   and some require diving into the actual code. If you have no familiarity with the code in
                                   which	the	application	was	written,	it’s	best	to	 eep	out	of	it.	 earn	the	code	somewhere	
                                   else (or hire a programmer), and then, when you’re more comfortable with the system,
                                   take your shot.



                                            Bringing On Staff or Contributors
                                         i e	any	business,	operating	a	blog	has	many	responsibilities	and	tas s	involved,	
                                   above and beyond creating and publishing blog entries and content. In addition to
                                   writing or producing the actual blog, you’ll need to manage the integrated advertising
                                   displayed within the blog (if applicable), handle the blog’s marketing and promotion,
                                   oversee the blog’s business-related accounting and bookkeeping, and manage the
                                   business relationships with your hosting service and related vendors.
                                        Sure, blogging is a fun business, but it’s still a very real business, and if its goal
                                   is to generate an income, it needs to be treated like a serious business (at
                                   least	behind	the	scenes .	 i ewise,	if	a	blog	is	
                                   being used in conjunction with your existing
                                   business, it needs to be treated like a business     Smart Tip
                                   tool not	a	hobby.                                    Plan to hire help. If you
                                        As your blog grows, it may become too           think of your blog as a
                                                                                        business, not as a hobby, you
                                   big of a project for just one person to handle
                                                                                        should probably plan to have help,
                                   all the required responsibilities. When getting
                                                                                        at least in the form of freelanc-
                                   started, your main goal should be to run a           ers, if not part-time or full-time
                                   reliable blog, while planning the business’s         employees.
                                   structure for growth. You shouldn’t assume



         38
that you can do everything the business needs




                                                                                              1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
for as long as the business needs it.               Smart Tip
    Depending on your blog’s goal and               Your blog will ben-
audience, it may need to be updated every           efit from a business plan.
                                                    Sample business plans are
single day, or several times throughout the
                                                    available online from the SBA.
day. Are you planning a life wherein you
                                                    Visit www.sba.gov for more
never	get	a	vacation,	or	even	a	wee end	off         information. Business Plan Pro
     Many blogging services offer now the           from Palo Alto Software (www.
ability to create blog entries and then pre-        businessplanpro.com) is one of
determine exactly when each entry will be           the most powerful business plan
published. Thus, if you have a vacation             creation tools on the market. It’s
                                                    priced starting at $99.95 for the
planned, you can write multiple blog entries
                                                    basic edition or $159.95 for the
ahead of time and arrange for them to
                                                    “Premiere” edition. This software
automatically be posted, one at a time, based       is well worth the investment if
on your blog’s publishing schedule.                 you need to create a detailed,
    In the beginning, you’ll likely be able to      well-organized, and highly profes-
do	everything	yourself.	 ut	there	may	come	         sional business plan.
a point when you simply can’t do everything
you need to do in the course of the day. In addition to researching and writing posts for
your blog, you’ll also need to solicit advertisers, manage advertising networks, process
merchandise orders, pack and ship orders, e-mail readers, and manage the day-to-day
operations of the business, as well as the smooth operation of your blog.
    As your business grows, taking care of all the peripheral work that building a
successful	 blog	 re uires	 also	 becomes	 your	 responsibility.	 efore	 you	 become	
overwhelmed by the amount of work required to keep your successful blog going
(once it has a huge following and is generating revenue for you, if that’s its goal), or if
you notice that the quality of your posts is beginning to suffer because you’re too busy
with the “back office” part of your blog business, it is time to hire help.
       nfortunately,	many	business	owners	must	reach	a	point	of	absolute	fren y	before	
they	reali e	the	need	to	hire	help.	Essentially,	in	order	to	ta e	on	a	full time	employee,	
the business owner often must overload himself with the work of two (or more) people
just to build the venture to the point that it can support another salary. Don’t wait for
that point if you can avoid it.
      uc ily,	when	 ust	starting	out,	you	li ely	won’t	need	full time	help.	A	person	or	
two, for a few hours a week, will significantly lighten your load and allow you to focus
on delivering quality content to your readers. Consider hiring college interns or paid
freelancers to pick up the slack when their help is needed.



                                                                                               39
                                                              Your Growth Plan
Start Your Own Blogging Business




                                         efore	 you	 even	 begin	 blogging,	 it’s	 important	 to	 have	 a	 detailed	 growth	 plan.	
                                   This plan should consist of the short- and long-term goals for your blog and for your
                                   overall business, as well as a time frame in which to achieve each goal. You’ll also want
                                   to	determine	what	type	of	speciali ed	help	you’ll	need	along	the	way,	whether	it’s	from	
                                   a graphic designer, professional photographer, editor, website designer, programmer,
                                   bookkeeper, advertising sales representative, chat room monitor, or an experienced
                                   writer/journalist (copywriter).


                                                                     Business Goals
                                       Specific goals for a blogging business are unique to every blogger. Some prefer
                                   to blog in their spare time for extra cash, while others have a full-time career path in
                                   mind. Other bloggers aim for world domination. When deciding your goals, take into
                                   account the level of intricacy you’re prepared to deal with and the amount of time you
                                   want to spend. Once again consider your passion for the project and what realistic
                                   expectations you have for it.
                                       A small blog with one advertising network is obviously less complicated and time-
                                   consuming to deal with than managing a huge blog with private sponsors, three ad
                                   networks, and branded T-shirts and coffee mugs for sale.
                                       Many	bloggers	are	able	to	generate	a	nice	income	by	selling	customi ed	shirts	and	
                                   merchandise	based	around	their	blog’s	name,	theme,	or	sub ect	matter.	Just	a	few	of	
                                   the companies that can help make the creation and selling of merchandise from your
                                   blog	 easier	 are	 istrict	 ines	 www.districtlines.com ,	 igCartel	 http bigcartel.
                                   com), and CafePress (www.cafepress.com). We’ll talk more about this viable method
                                   of generating revenue from your blog later.



                                                                   Your Time Frame
                                        Develop a reasonable and conservative time frame in which you expect to achieve
                                   each of your goals. It usually makes sense to take your biggest and most ambitious
                                   goals and divide them up into a series of smaller, more achievable goals, each with
                                   its own deadline. Achieving five small goals, one at a time, is easier and much less
                                   daunting than trying to tackle a single major goal.
                                        If you’ve planned a modest blog, aim for achieving your desired readership levels
                                   in six months to a year, but be sure to keep your expectations realistic, based on your
                                   ability to market your blog and who your intended audience will be.

         40
    If you’ve considerably more ambitious




                                                                                           1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
goals, achieving your desired level of               Smart Tip
readership could take anywhere from one to           If you haven’t reached
four years. Make sure you have the patience          your goal within two to
to be persistent and stay on track over the          three years, or your audience
long term, or don’t get started at all.              has stopped growing for several
                                                     months in a row, re-evaluate your
     Some blogs catch on with an audience            marketing strategies, your overall
very quickly and require limited marketing           approach, and how you’ve defined
and promotion, thanks to overwhelming                your target audience.
word-of-mouth or if the blog receives                Make sure your goals are realis-
national	 publicity,	 for	 example.	 ut	 you	        tic. When you first launch a blog,
should not count on that level of success,           it could take weeks or months
at	least	right	away.	Realistically,	it	will	ta e	    (possibly years) to build up a sig-
considerable time for your readership to             nificant audience, even if you do
grow.                                                everything right from day one.


    Inviting Other People to Contribute to Your Blog
    You may begin to feel swamped by the responsibility of writing several blog posts
per day while at the same time interacting with your blog’s readers and followers.
If you think that your time would be better spent working on other aspects of the
business, consider hiring or enlisting the help of blog contributors.
    The best place to find such help is among your readership. The people who visit
your blog regularly have already displayed a sincere interest in your content. There
are probably a few people in your audience who would love a chance to begin writing
for their favorite blog. There’s a thrill in being a reader-turned-poster; most readers
would jump at the chance to post to the blog, even without pay.
    If you’re operating a company blog, get your coworkers or company executives
involved. For example, have individuals from various departments within your
company serve as guest bloggers in order to provide your audience with content that’s
published from slightly different perspectives.
    When choosing a contributor, make sure:

   •	    hey’re	passionate	about	the	blog’s	topic.
   •	    hey’re	extremely	 nowledgeable	about	the	blog’s	topic.
   •	    hey’re	credible	and	can	write	with	authority.
   •	    hey	truly	understand	and	identify	with	your	blog’s	target	audience.
   •	    hey	have	the	ability	to	write	and	edit	their	own	wor 	and	create	professional	
        quality content.

                                                                                                41
                                      •	     hey’re	creative	and	able	to	gener-
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                           ate content that’s original, engaging,                  Beware!
                                           and of interest to your target audi-                       If your audience has
                                           ence.                                                       come to enjoy your
                                                                                                work as a blogger, don’t
                                      •	     hey’ll	 wor 	 within	 a	 budget	 you	
                                                                                         step back from posting entirely,
                                           can afford to pay. Hiring a profes-           or your business plan could back-
                                           sional writer will mean paying them           fire. Be sure to watch the posted
                                           per word or per entry for their               material from other writers
                                           work. The quality will most likely be         closely, and act as an editor when
                                           top-notch, but if you want to hire a          necessary.
                                           highly skilled professional writer to
                                           contribute to your blog, you’ll need to pay wages equivalent to a newspaper,
                                           maga ine	or	other	media	outlets.	 his	often	means	paying	between	 . 	and	
                                           $1 per word.

                                       The drawback to finding volunteer bloggers to contribute to your blog is finding
                                   people who are reliable and able to create content that’s up to par. Plus, you’ll often
                                   have a hard time imposing quotas on volunteer help. Asking for daily content from
                                   volunteers is requesting a lot. And if you decide that the volunteer you’ve enlisted is
                                   not producing the quality of content that you would like, you’ll have a harder time
                                   asking that person to stop. Paying contributors even a small stipend makes it easier
                                   to set a minimum number of posts per day, and to fire posters that don’t produce
                                   quality.
                                       Once you start bringing in contributors to your blog, plan to serve as
                                   editor-in-chief for any bloggers you hire. You can’t take the risk of hiring help
                                   without maintaining full editorial control. Your blog could suffer heavily from an
                                   incompetent, unreliable, or uninformed blogger. Until you can trust that a certain
                                   person will reliably produce worthy content for you, insist that everything he or
                                   she posts passes through you first. This will create more work for you in the short
                                   term, as you’ll be writing your own posts while editing others, but it will pay off
                                   in the long run.
                                       If	 you’re	 able	 to	 find	 several	 reliable	 contributors enough	 to	 cover	 your	 daily	
                                   posting	duties you	could	conceivably	get	out	of	posting	to	your	blog	altogether	and	
                                   focus on finding more readers, advertisers, and therefore, profits. That is, if that’s
                                   the part of the blogging business you like best. Of course, you could also hire people
                                   to handle these nonblogging-related business activities and focus simply on being a
                                   blogger.




         42
                                             Don’t Forget About




                                                                                         1 / Planning and Creating Your Blog
  Smart Tip
  Most successful blogs
  somehow utilize Facebook,                    Building Your
                                                 Audience
  Twitter, and other online social
  networking sites as promotional
  and audience-building tools.
  Highly targeted paid online adver-
                                             For the majority of bloggers, the
  tising can also be used as a quick
  yet inexpensive way to build an       biggest and most time-consuming challenge
  audience. We’ll explore these         is building and maintaining an audience.
  options within Chapter 3.             Without an audience that’s constantly
                                        growing, you won’t be able to generate
revenue from your blog or achieve any of its other objectives.
    So in addition to pre-planning how you’ll operate your business and create and
publish your blog on an ongoing basis, put a lot of thought and consideration into
how you’ll market and promote your blog initially and on an ongoing basis. Without
an extremely strong, innovative, and well-developed marketing and promotional plan,
your blog is almost guaranteed to fail.
     Realistically,	if	you	want	to	have	a	successful	blog,	you	must	become	
an expert at marketing and promotions and
truly understand who your target audience
is and how to reach those people with
                                                    Smart Tip
appropriate content starting from day one.          One of the biggest
                                                    expenses you’ll have as a
  ater	 in	 this	 boo 	 we’ll	 discuss	 specific	
                                                    blog operator is promoting and
marketing and promotional strategies, but if        marketing your blog in order to
you’re not willing to invest the time, effort,      build and maintain your audi-
and money to do this properly, you will not         ence. This is a time-consuming
be able to generate the audience you want or        process that will most likely cost
need for your blog.                                 money and require you to develop
                                                    a high level of expertise in mar-
                                                    keting and promotions. There are
                                                    no shortcuts. You’ll need to mar-
   Planning Wrap-Up                                 ket and promote your blog heavily
                                                    and on an ongoing basis by tak-
                                                    ing a multifaceted approach that
     Take as long as you need to effectively        perfectly targets your intended
plan your blog. There’s no better time to           audience.
tinker and test your business idea than before




                                                                                           43
                                    you get started. After launch, you’ll have committed your time and money to one path or
Start Your Own Blogging Business


                                    another, so try to be sure when heading into the venture that it’s the right one.
                                        Review	your	ob ectives	once	everything	is	underway,	and	ma e	sure	you’ve	built	
                                    a solid plan for growth. If you know someone with blogging experience, consider
                                    having	her	or	him	review	your	plan	and	offer	guidance	as	a	mentor.	 efore	actually	
                                    getting started with your blog, make sure you’ve properly considered every aspect of
                                    the creative and business aspects of it. If you’ve done your job well, you’ll have built a
                                    solid foundation from which your blog and business can and will grow.
                                       Now that we’ve discussed the foundation required for starting a blog, let’s learn
                                    more about what’s required to actually create and publish a blog. That’s the focus of
                                    Chapter 2.




                                   Entrepreneur Press and Jason R. Rich, © 2014, by Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights
                                   reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.




         44

				
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